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Winter Hiking: Master Winter Travel

Quick tips for your transportation of choice.

CRAMPONS
Attach these spikes to your boots via straps or clips for bomber grip on ice.

>> When ascending a moderate slope, people tend to try to walk as they do in boots. Instead, widen your stance a bit to avoid snagging your pants, and fully plant your foot so all the crampon points bite into the snow. When climbing a very steep slope (greater than 45 degrees), kick steps using the front points of the crampons, then step up by balancing your weight over your toes.

>>Take them off in deep snow (where they won’t grip) or rocky stretches (to avoid wearing down the points). And of course, never glissade with them on, which is a recipe for a bad gash or broken ankle.

>> Anti-balling plates (pieces of flexible plastic that fit under the toe and heel of the crampon) are a must, says Carlos Cummings, assistant guide at Timberline Mountain Guides, since they keep snow from sticking to the metal underfoot. "When snow balls up, it feels like you’re walking on high heels," he says. Either buy some at a gear store, or fashion a pair by cutting out a piece of detergent bottle plastic and duct-taping it to the crampon. To make ad-hoc plates in the field, tie a thin piece of nylon (like a patch from your pants) or insulite pad to the bottom of the crampons using thin Spectra cord.

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